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June 14, 2011 12:49 AM UTC

Will Tonight's Debate Make Romney? Or Break Him?

  • 24 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

Our friends at the Washington Post report, a lot riding on tonight’s GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire–at the top of that list, the true disposition of “frontrunner” Mitt Romney:

His moment is here again, in the state where last time the dream unraveled. Monday night, on a stage in Manchester, Mitt Romney will compete in New Hampshire’s opening debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, his first major test since he lost the 2008 Republican nomination to John McCain.

Now, as at various points four years ago, Romney leads big against GOP rivals in the New Hampshire polls. Now, as then, he is better financed than any foe. Some things don’t change: His black hair and preternaturally youthful appearance, even at 64. His ability to put together a phone bank and raise $10 million in a single day. His emphasis on his venture capital background and how he can conceptualize job creation in the way mere politicians can’t.

But otherwise, everything is different now. To his New Hampshire skeptics, he looks like the most vulnerable of front-runners, despite a Washington Post-ABC News poll that says he is running even with President Obama. This time the doubters believe he is already bleeding, wounded by years of opponents’ charges that his career has been defined by expedient flip-flops. They suspect his condition has worsened in the wake of escalating attacks over something he refuses to renounce, a Massachusetts health-care plan he signed into law as that state’s governor…

Romney is the favorite of Colorado Republicans as well, though trailed by such noncontenders as Michele Bachmann and Herman “The Hermanator” Cain–it seems to us that our local Republicans have yet to get serious about this race, and Cain won’t rank this well for long. Tonight’s debate does represent a golden opportunity for another potentially viable GOP candidate, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, to start blowing holes in Romney’s tepid frontrunner status. Of the seven Republican candidates in attendance tonight, Pawlenty and Romney are the only two with something remotely like a chance at this nomination. Poll follows.

Though let’s be honest, “viability” is not why Herman Cain is fun at parties.

If you had to choose between Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty, who would you pick?

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24 thoughts on “Will Tonight’s Debate Make Romney? Or Break Him?

  1. neither.

    He gets the chance to seem adult serious.  Not crazy.

    He’s not going to talk about criminalizing abortion (Santorum) nor spiking the debt ceiling and defaulting (Bachman).  

    He’ll acknowledge that 5% annual GDP growth is unlikely (Pawlenty) and that climate change is real and affected by human activity.

    He’ll talk about states’ solutions for state problems (like healthcare) and enforcing current immigration law.

    Oh, and blaming President Obama  for everything bad everywhere.

    In short- he’ll be boring.

        1. I have bemoaned the lack of reasonable Republicans for years.  Where have you gone, Tom Kean?  

          In my view, the country runs best when the two political parties can talk and work each other civilly regardless of which party is “in power.”  

          I’m frankly glad the GOP has someone who at least comes across as grown-up and doesn’t act like the proverbial spoiled child.  I sincerely hope Romney does not win the Presidency, but in the spirit of my opinion above, I hope Romney is exactly what MADCO predicted.  

    1. He’ll be written off by every Republican talking head, tea party activist, and the conventional wisdom. And they will continue to write him off until he wins the primary.

      On the flip side if he panders everyone will say he’s got it. And he’ll continue to be the front runner until he starts losing primary after primary after primary.

      The noise machine wants crazy talk but the majority of Republican primary voters want a grown up who will stand up for what he believes in.

      1. for your assertion that “the majority of Republican primary voters want a grown up who will stand up for what he believes in”?

        Because if you’re talking about the same “majority” that nominated Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Ron Johnson, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and a shit load of extremist congressional candidates (do I really need to list them all?)… if you are then I don’t really know what you’re talking about.

        1. Let’s recap: the smart money is that the nominee will be Romney or Pawlenty, with an outside shot of Rick Perry or (if the tea party can do in IA and SC what it did in 2010 Senate/Gov primaries) Bachman. Summaries of David’s two criteria, “grown-up” and “stands up for what he believes in”:

          * Romney may be a “grown-up” but is one of the worst ever at “standing up for what he believes in”: whether abortion, health care, or gay rights, he ran as a deeply liberal R in Massachussetts in 1994 and 2002, then shifted far right to run for Prez.

          * Pawlenty was a run-of-the-mill conservative Guv but has detoured deep into crazy-land, questioning whether we should’ve gone off the gold standard (his dog whistle to the Ron Paul loons) and simultaneously pushing a balanced budget amendment and a ridiculous tax cut package that’d yield monstrously bigger deficits (25% & 10% income rates, no estate tax etc).

          * Perry has referred to Texas secession from the union as a possible option.

          * Bachman, nuff said.

          At times, David, you get blinded by your admirable desire to see the best in people (eg your depiction in warm & fuzzy terms of your interview of vile racist and wannabe terrorist — “let’s blow up Mecca to retaliate” — Tom Tancredo). Just look at the field of plausible nominees and you’ll see this R party has flatly ruled out a “grown up” “who will stand up for what he believes in”

      2. Bless your overly large heart for being so kind to the folks who looked the other way when the extremists hijacked their party and installed frothing idiots as their leaders.

        I knew you wouldn’t let the Republicans down with your kind hearted words about how friendly and cooperative they want to be on things like climate change and the economy.  What a guy.

    2. He failed, proving once again that he’s willing to take any position on any issue if he thinks it will get him approval.

      Tonight’s Romney stands: allowing the government to default and hating on the poor people.

  2. Sounds pretty unamerican to me. Have we seen his long-form birth certificate? Are we sure he’s not into any foreign “zen” stuff?

  3. What fun!  John King is one of the worst debate moderators ever.  But what a cast of characters.  30 seconds, yeah right…

    Not ready for prime time…

  4. The Rockies are on TV and there’s a Stanley Cup game on.

    None of these people figure into the equation of how to beat Obama.  Obama’s most powerful opponent is the economy.

    If the economy starts to recover, Obama wins.  If it doesn’t, Obama loses.  It doesn’t matter who is running against him.  He either gets the country healthy or he’s history.

    1. So I was watching it online, then I went to the store to buy meat for Ms. Puppy. Now I’m watching it again.

      At the beginning Bachmann announced that she filed the paperwork, it’s official! She’s running for President.

      CNN is doing a live tracking poll of Republicans and Independents (Dems need not apply this round). The Is did not care for Bachmann’s announcement.

      Rs don’t like Obamaneycare, or just love when the Right talks dirty about it.

      Santorum looks like he’s wearing a mask of his own face. Paul looks like a Muppet.

      Let’s see… They’re all idiots on health care.

      The Is like Romney’s energy policy, but not Santorum’s. Is also like Paul’s military strategy, the Rs do not.

      That’s it so far. I assume some things happen while I was at the store. But I could be wrong.

  5. …what a painful debate to watch – the biggest benefit was being reminded why I’m a proud Democrat now

    Yes, I remain a fiscal conservative, but watching that debate felt more like an indictment against Muslims, gays, and immigrants, than it did a rationale plea for fiscal conservatism – again, I am proud to be a Democrat

    Debate-wise – ROMNEY did himself a MAJOR FAVOR and did a solid job overall – Romney lost 2008 greatly because he let himself be pushed around by McCain – the Romney last night came out swinging and defended himself well – that will bode well for him going forward, as debates were his WEAK point in 2008 – if debates are his STRONG point this time, then he’s going to be a formidable candidate

    I don’t understand the hoopla with Bachmann? Yes, she was decent, but nothing amazing – I will give Bachmann the great credit that she avoided the proverbial ‘conservative’ platitudes, instead opting for intelligent answers to every question, but she was no Reagan/Kennedy/Clinton by any stretch

    Tim Pawlenty, as I’ve said before, isn’t even the most formidable candidate from the state of Minnesota – he’s not going anywhere and the debate last night proved it, as he was too afraid to even take ownership of his attack against Romney – it shows he has no spine (and that’s something that GOP voters don’t like)

    Those are my thoughts!

    1. This wasn’t a debate; it was a talent show.  Eveyone knew it.  The candidates got their turn going on the attack against the Obama administration, and primary voters watched them all and decided who they think looks convincing and persuasive in doing it.  There will come a time for directing more of the attack lines toward fellow Republicans, but it’ll come this late fall and spring, after battle lines and supporters are more clearly drawn.

      Coming out swinging with hard-hitting attacks against fellow Republicans was not the way to go last night.  Pawlenty has been doing what he should: seeding complaints against Romney quietly, but keeping them just barely out of the center of attention, making them seem like grass-roots objections, media coverage, and the like.  He needs them to stay just slightly under the radar as “whisperings” among voters, long enough to become something like conventional wisdom.  They they will be much more effective later.

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